almost part of the family

I’ve written before about Victoria’s, our local, family owned Mexican restaurant. We generally go there for lunch on Tuesday or Wednesday. That’s because on Tuesday they serve tortilla soup and on Wednesday they serve albondigas soup, both of which Terry loves. For some time now Donald “Elvis,” our local highly regarded Elvis impersonator, restaurant co-owner, and the one in charge of operations there, has been working Tuesday and Wednesday lunch. Before that though, his aunt Carmen handled those shifts. They both know our standard order.

Some weeks back, it was kind of slow and Don was sitting at the table out in front talking to Carmen. We came up and Don started to get up, but Carmen said, “Just write up their ticket. They can take it back to the kitchen themselves.” So Don did.

How’s that for being considered almost part of the family? Later Don came by our table and said, “Only Carmen would do that.”

A week ago today Terry strained her hamstring. She wasn’t able to put any weight on it. (She’s doing much better now, by the way.) On Wednesday she still wasn’t able to be out and about, so I went to Victoria’s to get takeout. They were totally sold out that day, and when Don came by and patted me on the shoulder he asked, “Where’s your wife?” I said, “She has a strained hamstring. I need the usual to go.” He said, “You got it.”

When he brought out the order he said, “I put a couple of extra meatballs in the soup and gave you some extra chips and salsa. Tell her I hope she’s feeling better.”

Now how is that for being considered almost a part of the family?

maintaining quality is hard

Terry and I have been having lunch at our local Mexican restaurant, Victoria’s, for several years now. The quality has always been consistent. We always know what to expect.

Newer ventures don’t always find it so easy to maintain consistent quality. When our new South Asian restaurant, Pineapple Village, opened Terry and I went there on their second day. We both really enjoyed the lunch bento plate. Both the taste and the presentation impressed us. As they became more popular and the lunch hour became busier, they had difficulty keeping up. On my most recent visit, when I went by myself, I had a long wait for my bento plate, and when it arrived the presentation was sloppy and the flavor not what I experienced on our first visit.

A while back a burger place called Roadhouse Jack’s went in to the space previously occupied by Arby’s. We went there a few times and really enjoyed it. On our visit a few months ago we decided that it was our burger place of choice. Our most recent visit was different. First we had a very long wait for our order. It turns out that they needed to fry a new batch of chips for my chips and guacamole. It was nice to have fresh chips, but they could have given us a heads up. Then my mushroom burger had a stale bun and was very chintzy with the mushrooms. Not acceptable.

Maintaining quality isn’t easy.

farewell to the San Jose Rep

I learned today that the San Jose Repertory Theatre is shutting down. I first heard the news on a KQED-FM local news segment. I then saw the official statement of Facebook. Eerily, as of this afternoon, the Web site is fully up and running, promoting the next play that was due to open June 19.

This is sad news for Terry and me. We didn’t attend often, but always had a marvelous time when we did. We would check in to the Fairmont, have dinner, see the show, enjoy a late evening in our room, and then get room service breakfast the next morning before heading home. We will still do that at the end of August when we see Wicked courtesy of Nederlander’s Broadway San Jose, but it is a different experience to attend a locally produced play.

What a variety of shows we have seen. There was the serious, intense Splitting Infinity. We saw Two Pianos Four Hands, which was intelligent and witty. It also had a more serious side, however, exploring the experience of living a life centered around music, from childhood through trying to make a living as an adult by that means. The Marvelous Wonderettes was a kick which employed a couple of unusual devices, though mostly an excuse to perform fifties and sixties pop. All of the shows were time well spent.

We will miss the Rep.

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walking the 5k

Terry and I walked the Mushroom Mardi Gras 5k on Saturday. This was no small matter.

MushroomMardiGrasbibSaturday is my one day for sleeping in. And I really love taking advantage of this time. To get to the race location, get parked, and get registered for the 8:05 start (the 10k began at 8:00), we had to get out of bed at 6:15. On a Saturday.

But we had both registered in advance and paid our money. We had both been training, and I had done two walks in excess of 5k over the past month. So we did it. We were near the end of the pack, but that was fine. It was a nice walk along a pleasant trail, and we enjoyed it.

There is something rewarding about making a commitment and following through.



This place has been around for a while, but I haven’t written about it. Tacomania has a few locations in the South Bay, but the Gilroy location only opened up last fall. They moved into an old building that had been a variety of fast food places. They took a taco trailer, put an awning over it, and made it part of the building. I believe it was the same trailer that had been selling tacos at various locations around town. If not, the fact that the trailer disappeared at the same time they started working on this place is a very strange coincidence indeed.

In any case, they did a nice job of remodeling the interior. Nothing fancy — simple and plain, but comfortable. You go inside and place your order at the counter. The order is transmitted to the trailer, so you go outside to wait for it. When it’s ready the cook rings one of those old-fashioned front desk bells and hands you your order.

Tacomanina doesn’t work for Terry, as they rely heavily on onion and cilantro. For me, though, it’s a nice lunch when I’m getting it on my own.

Pineapple Village

I have written about the Chinese Fast Food place near us, between our grocery store and our favorite Mexican restaurant. After changing hands the new owners added a short menu of entrée and rice dishes in addition to the offerings on the hot table. They were quite good. In fact the dishes rivaled our late, lamented Thai restaurant. That obviously didn’t work, though, because one day I walked in and they had a completely new menu. It smacked of the work of a consultant, or at least some kind of pre-packaged commercial offering. That didn’t work either, because they closed shortly thereafter.

The location stayed vacant for a while, and then late last summer work began inside. We couldn’t see what they were doing because the windows were papered over, but eventually a permanent lighted sign that said Pineapple Village went up. That’s how things stayed throughout the winter and into the spring.

Finally they opened their doors in April. They opened on a Thursday and we went in for lunch on Friday. We were quite impressed. They offer a bento plate for lunch. It includes appetizer, salad, rice, and entrée, beautifully arranged on a square black plate. The flavors are marvelous. They just pop. We’ve been back again for lunch since then and have gotten takeout for Friday dinner.

We’re adding Pineapple Village to our rotation.

Easter and tragedy

There was a suicide on our block on Easter.

Under any circumstances a suicide is a tragedy. All the more so on Easter. What further amplified that for me was that Fr. Phil in his Easter sermon, before getting back to the  resurrection of Jesus, told us “Death is not a rare event in this world.” I wasn’t expecting immediate confirmation of that.

After church I spent a couple of hours in the front yard pruning roses and generally cleaning up the yard. I took a shower and got cleaned up and Terry picked up lunch. I then pulled out my laptop to make some additions to my recipe database. I heard sirens, and thought it was sad that there would be sirens on Easter. I didn’t realize that the vehicles running those sirens were headed for our street.

A while later Terry told me that there was a suicide at the house two doors down. I have written about that house before. The husband has long had a serious alcohol abuse problems to the point where he cannot work I have not seen him in ages. His wife, in order to make ends meet, takes in boarders. Those boarders, I have long observed in my biased and not terribly charitable perspective, tend towards the unsavory type and seem to mostly be part of the recovery community.

It seems that there was a husband and wife couple living there whose responsibilities included taking care of the back yard. As Terry heard it, the husband was away overnight, hadn’t done his yard work, the owner of the home got mad, and the wife took an overdose. Certainly overdosing on account of yard work not done points to far deeper and more serious problems, for which this was perhaps merely the tipping point. In fact there is no way to prove cause and effect. Maybe the angry reaction and the overdose were two sequential but unrelated events.

The actual reason for the overdose doesn’t matter. There was a suicide on our block on Easter.

However you look at it, that is a tragedy.